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Beginning our School Year

We’re three weeks into our K-5 school year. Now, because I’m a nerd and I love everything having anything to do with education/school, or really just an excuse to buy pencils and notebooks, we had some sort-of “preschool at home” years with Finn when he was 3 and 4. Which is funny, because if I had to pick an official stance on educational methods for young children (though with my limited experience,I should hesitate to do so), I’d probably fall into a Charlotte Mason-y “let them be children” play-led-learning sort of camp. We’d also read a lot of books in that camp, because, well, among the billions of parenting and education issues that are really divisive, reading books is pretty much agreed upon as “always a good idea”. So, it was definitely for my own enjoyment rather than any sense of obligation that we tried to spend about an hour a day doing “school stuff” for the last couple of years.

So with a couple of “practice years” under our belts, our first “official” school year got off to as smooth a start as it could. And, since this is my first post since many years ago, it’s worth noting that this is with a 2-year-old and newborn in the same happy school-room picture.

I want to try to document, however rudimentarily (is that a word?), our schooling over the year(s). Maybe for my own reference, or maybe to share with others down the road. Mostly, I just don’t want to let the substance of our school-mornings together slip away amid the crazy, harried life that fills our home most days.

So, 2015. Finn is 5 years old, and in K-5. We’ll be starting our second year with our local Classical Conversations community next week – similar to a once-a-week co-op, it helps support parents to educate their children classically. I decided to start our year at home kind of early, because one of the things our “practice years” taught me is that it’s a lot easier to pad the school year at the beginning when it’s still exciting, than at the end when you’re just plain ready for summer. Now that we’re at official school age, we’ve got to get a solid 180 educational days in, and I know I’ll want a week off every now and again. So we started at the very first of August, doing Math, Reading, Handwriting, and Science at home. He’ll get plenty of History once CC starts up (and I’d say he would get enough Science, too, but this kid really never gets enough Science to suit him). For some reason it feels really dull to share the specifics, but it wouldn’t be documenting if I didn’t, so here’s what we’re using:

  • Saxon Math K-5. I’ve found this to be boring, but I kind of expected it would be. We’re using Saxon because it’s familiar (I used Saxon in school), and easy, and scripted, and I already had a copy. Finn actually really likes the manipulatives, although 15 lessons in and it does feel like we’re just playing with toys every week. I guess that’s why he likes it. We’re skipping the “Meeting Book,” so there’s not much to our lessons, yet. Really basic stuff, like counting, and sorting colors, and simple patterns.
  • All About Reading Level 1 – We really, really like this. I’m thankful to a friend for loaning me the reusable portions of this, because I’m not sure I would have tried it if I had to buy the whole set. However, now that we’ve used it, I’d definitely pay for the whole thing. Reading lessons seem effortless, and he is progressing so much faster than I expected. When you’ve only learned 10 letter sounds, stories and readers can be very limited and silly, but the readers that come with this are surprisingly engaging and have cute illustrations. So far, we’ve been progressing through sounds that he mostly already knows, but I’m eager to see how the program works once we get to the harder phonetic blends and things.
  • Getty-Dubay Handwriting Italics – I can’t say much here. It’s handwriting. I was so worried that this part of our day would be torture, because Finn doesn’t enjoy penmanship, but because I offer a chocolate chip for every satisfactory writing sample, we’re working through it easily.
  • Apologia Elementary Zoology 3 – This is so basic-textbook that I really thought it would be too dry for us. But I did mention that Finn adores Science, and this is surprisingly his favorite part of school. We just sit on the couch and read the textbook. It includes projects and experiments – we did one of them last week, but honestly I expect we will mostly skip them going forward. The material in the experiments is slightly over his head, and I don’t love the prep-work required for that kind of stuff. He will do science experiments weekly in his CC class anyway.

I hope that I can hold myself accountable for occasionally updating on how things are going!

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Better Sweater Weather

It’s definitely sweater weather. Rather, it’s definitely sweater weather before lunchtime, and t-shirt under sweater weather after, lest you swelter. But around here, it’s silly not to layer every day of the year. You just never really know what’s going to happen out there.

I celebrated by making a sweater for Finn, prompted by an instinctive need to protect my young from the harsh realities of pending winter, and possibly also from my enjoyment of the calming art of knitting. In fact, probably more of the latter than the former, given that a) we are blessed with mild winters, b) we are blessed with climate control indoors, and c) we are blessed with the fact that most his sweaters from last year still fit. But moving on.

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Here he is wearing his new sweater. From any respectable distance, his buttons just look like toggle buttons, and they pretty much are. But they actually have little gold metal bands on them that make them look like small footballs. I didn’t notice this until I had sewn them on, so inattentive am I. They belonged to my mother’s button collection, which makes the sweater even more special. I don’t think it’s considered tooting my own horn to share this with you, since it is my blog after all. I’m proud of the sweater.🙂

So much has changed in the last month or so, and so much is the same. We did have a wonderful family vacation at Edisto last month. It seems like as soon as we got back from our trip, life reached a “new normal”, as Brian and I have been terming it. Not exactly different, but just that new levels of energy are required to keep up with the typical day. For one thing, Finn is now capable of so many new antics and magic tricks, and he doesn’t run out of them, ever, at all, even once, during the whole day. Which is obviously a sign of awesome talent, but it’s also hard for me to keep up. Add to this the fact that he now needs to wear glasses all day, and an eye patch for part of the day, and suddenly I am the one doing magic tricks to keep him distracted from his own face. We are like a monkey-house some days.

But it’s wonderful. I’m not complaining (even though sometimes I do) – but I’m constantly amazed at the tricks time plays on us. I heard once that our concept of time is relative to how much of it we’ve already experienced. So as children, having only experienced a small amount of time, it passes more slowly. And as we get older, having known more and more time, it seems to pass more quickly. It seems to be logical, although if I think about it too much I get dizzy. What do you think?

The appropriate thing to do here is to share more photos of a cute toddler in glasses and a green sweater.

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Wishing you all a happy fall.🙂

Project: Baby Aprons

Are you on Pinterest? If you aren’t, you should be (and if you need an invitation to join, just let me know!). This is one of my new favorite things to do when I have a little time to myself. It’s described as a digital pinboard, or a visual bookmarking tool. While it’s definitely useful for capturing and remembering things you see on the internet, my favorite thing to do is to browse the things that other people are pinning. It’s full of recipes and baking, home organizing, decorating, and (possibly my favorite category) craft ideas. There’s a huge supply of users who love to share DIY ideas they find, and unlike browsing DIY and craft blogs for inspiration, it’s so easy and quick to see so much at a glance on Pinterest. Not only have I found a lot of ideas on Pinterest, but I’ve also actually created a lot of the things I’ve Pinned. I used it a lot for inspiration for Finn’s first birthday party, and for crafts and decorating around the house.

Friday I decided to make some time for a craft project. I found these on Pinterest and thought they were a perfect afternoon project. Even better, I already had almost all the supplies.

 

We have a challenge keeping bibs on Finn at dinnertime. For whatever reason, he hates to wear them, and every one of the billion or so bibs we own is secured with Velcro. So when he rips them off his neck, they usually leave nasty red scratches on his baby-soft skin. These are perfect, because they tie in the back (and can be double-knotted once he gets clever enough to untie), and they have straps to go behind the arms, which prevents him from lifting the bib off his chest to smear food underneath (which he’s already clever enough to do!).

I made four in an afternoon using the tutorial and a combination of sale fabrics and fabric I already had.

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Once Finn realized he couldn’t take these off, he seemed content to leave them on.

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The ties are long enough in the back that I can double-knot if I need to.

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I think they turned out great.

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I tend to be sporadic and impulsive when it comes to crafts, so I love projects that can come together quickly and are less likely to sit around unfinished. I’ll be making more of these for sure – they’re incredibly useful. I think for the next ones, I’ll probably enlarge the pattern a bit so they’ll last well into Finn’s toddler years. These will continue to fit his neck and arms, I think, but will become a little short on the torso before too long. Also, because I was being impulsive and eager, I didn’t pre-shrink any of the fabrics, so the “baprons” quilted a little in the wash – still functional and still cute, but something I’ll be careful about in the future.

Just wanted to share my Friday project with you. Have a happy week, and pin something for Fall! It’s so close, I can smell it!

Baseball

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a Braves game in Atlanta. I’m not usually big on sporting events, but it was a trip out of town and I had never been to a baseball game before, so it was actually really exciting. It was a lot bigger than I expected, and Finn held up better than I expected (it was a late game with a pre-show ceremony, so well past his bedtime). To avoid too much driving, we stayed in Atlanta that night and had an all-around good time of things. And I can’t forget to mention that we were able to use our ticket stubs to score free burritos at Moe’s on the way home Saturday – thanks to an appropriately timed home run. If I had known they gave out free burritos at these things, I’d probably not have made it this far in my life without having been to a game.🙂

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A Short Tale in Which I Retrieve Some Groceries

Arrive at Corley’s with a short list of three items. Remove Finn from his carseat and put him on my hip. Watch as Finn slams the car door on my little finger. Lie down in the backseat for a brief blackout. Regain consciousness and check finger for swelling. Go into the store. Ruefully remember that this store doesn’t have seatbelts in grocery carts. Grab a bag of frozen peas to ice finger. Have Finn stick his thumb into half of a ten-dollar chocolate pound cake. Use 23 sanitizing wipes to clean Finns hands as he keeps grabbing raw meat packages. Purchase expensive damaged pound cake, otherwise-unnecessary frozen peas, and raw meat. Watch Finn climb out of the shopping cart while I’m paying. Listen to Finn shriek as I force him back into the shopping cart. Load groceries and Finn into the car. Say a brief prayer of thankfulness that this wasn’t as bad as the trip to Bi-Lo last week. Drive home, wondering if there is really not enough of a market for online grocery ordering and delivery businesses in Greenwood.

August

I really can’t believe it’s already August. Even though August is usually just as hot as July here in South Carolina, it still feels like a precursor to Fall. Schools are starting back soon, and even though it’s been a few years since I had to worry about classes, I still can’t help from shopping the school supply aisles. I love to feel the crispness of new notebooks and enjoy the scent of fresh crayons.

We’ve had a beautiful summer already, with lots of fresh fruit, splashing with Finn in the baby pool, and one trip to the beach (with another coming in September to officially close the season). As I was praying this morning, I went through the list of all the blessings we’ve received in just the last week alone, and I was just overwhelmed with joy. Even when days and weeks are hard, God is still good.

Some things that I’m looking forward to for this month:

  • I’ve got some fun knitting and sewing projects lined up.
  • Brian starts classes next week (not that I exactly envy him, since going to school is never a walk in the park, but I am excited for him!).
  • The weather maybe, possibly, will start cooling down this month.
  • Finn and I will be enjoying morning walks around the neighborhood.
  • We’re going to see a Braves game in Atlanta (I’ve never been to a baseball game).